Rogue landlords exposed

8 September 2010

A mother holding her young son

Shelter has released shocking new research which shows evidence of widespread abuse by a minority of landlords in the private rented sector and is calling on the Government to work with councils to develop a tough programme of action.

Our survey of 184 environmental health officers (EHOs) found that more than 90% who deal directly with private renters had encountered landlords harassing or illegally evicting their tenants.

The survey is part of Shelter’s national investigation which aims to expose and evict as many rogue landlords as possible. EHOs also said:

  • Almost all have encountered landlords who persistently ignore their responsibilities.
  • Half believe the main reason for letting unsafe properties is to make as much money as possible.
  • More than 90% have encountered cases of severe damp, mould, electrical or fire safety hazards in properties they investigated in the last year.
  • More than 60% said that more than half of their cases involved people from vulnerable groups.

One officer described a property being rented out with no heating, hot water or electricity. Another witnessed a mother and her young child living with no kitchen facilities, no fire precautions and only a halogen heater to heat the house.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb, said: ‘It is simply not acceptable that people are handing over their hard earned cash to live in houses that are run-down, squalid and in some cases even dangerous.

‘Our investigation shows just how ruthless a minority of rogue landlords can be. But this is not just the odd crook here and there. We know there are people operating in cities up and down the county and it’s clear that this is a national problem that urgently needs a national solution', he continued.

‘Government needs to wake up to the reality of the problem and work with councils to develop a tough programme of action to root out rogue landlords. The minority who do break the rules should be prosecuted and struck off immediately to prevent anyone else being exploited in the future.’

Photograph: Max Hamilton

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